The Review Tribunal uses the following information in order to make its decision: the information that was previously submitted to HRSDC - Canada Pension Plan during the application and reconsideration process. The Review Tribunal office will either send you or your representative this documentation which makes up the Hearing File.
As soon as the Review Tribunal office receives notice that you are requesting an appeal, they start to accumulate a hearing file. They contact the Feds and ask them to send all the documentation that they have collected during the application and reconsideration process. This would include the application, questionnaires, and any medical information that you have submitted. It would also include CPP adjudication worksheets and well as departmental correspondence and a record of your earnings and contributions to CPP.
As well as this evidence the Review Tribunal will also receive additional information you would like to submit - new documentation from your doctors or letters of support - although you can give these letters directly to the Panel it is best if you send this information in advance so that everyone has an opportunity to read and process the information - you may also like to write a submission arguing why you meet the legislative criteria - but make sure that you understand the legislative tenants - read the blog for suggestions on how to do this.
The Review Tribunal is a hearing de nova - which is latin- for a heaing anew - which means that they are going to consider all the information with "fresh eyes".
The oral information you give at a hearing is also an important source of information for the Review Tribunal and you will be encouraged to tell you own story and to give the Review Tribunal information about your condition - the Review Tribunal will also have questions for you arising out of your testimony or out of the Hearing File. You can ask witnesses to attend the hearing to give information on your appeal - you and your witnesses will be asked to affirm that the evidence you will give will be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It is my recommendation that you have a representative - because I am a case manager and know the advantages to having someone help you who knows the lay of the land - the OCRT advises that appellants seem to have a more successful hearing if they have someone to represent them.
It is not effective to have someone who you have asked to be a witness to represent you as well. The representative and the witness should play their own unique role in the hearing. Sometimes witnesses are asked to be excluded from the hearing room while you are giving evidence so that their evidence is given appropriate weight and can be taken as credible.
As well you can have a support person at the appeal and they are able to stay in the hearing room throughout the hearing.
The Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals (OCRT) are responsible for scheduling Review Tribunals. The hearings are usually held in the appellant's community and they usually take place in a hotel meeting room.
If you are rurally located, you may have to travel to a larger centre near you, but your travel costs will be reimbursed. If you live in a rural area it may take you longer to get a hearing as the need for a Review Tribunal to attend a location is based on the number of appeals in that location. Therefore it can take some time to get a hearing in a rural location - you can however waive travel costs against the Review Tribunal to get a location change to an urban center which may expediate the length of time you will have to wait.
If you require language interpretors or have special needs - these will also be accommodated.
The Review Tribunal usually sit three times in one day - at 9.00am, 11.00am and 2.00pm and the hearings usually last around 90 minutes. Sometimes if you have a complicated case the Review Tribunal may schedule a longer time period.
The Review Tribunal Panel itself has three members - the Chairperson, a medical member, and a member from the community. Most people assume that the panel members are from their community but panel members can be convened from all over Canada to sit at any location. The Chairperson is always a lawyer and is responsible for overseeing the hearing and usually for writing the decision.
The responsibility of the Review Tribunal is to decide whether or not your appeal for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits should be granted - the tribunal can allow your appeal, decide on the date of onset of your disability which will effect the amount of retroactive benefits you receive, deny your appeal, or decide they have no legal authority to hear your appeal. They can also grant an adjournment of the hearing. They cannot change the legislation no matter how much compassion they may feel or have for you.